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Minors Matters: Pirates Minor League report - 8/17/21

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Top pick Davis promoted; other recent picks now at FCL

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The promotion of No. 1 draft pick Henry Davis highlighted the week’s minor league maneuvers, as the power-hitting catcher was moved from the Florida Complex League to Greensboro of the High-A East division.

Davis has appeared in just two games with the Grasshoppers, going 1 for 3 in his High-A debut – he just missed an inside-the-park home run and had to settle for a triple – and then going 0 for 2 Sunday. So far, Davis has struck out twice and walked twice in seven total plate appearances after going 3 for 7 with a home run and four RBIs in two FCL games.

In other news, it’s been reported that MLB Pipeline is expected to update its prospect rankings for each team soon, so that could mean some reshuffling among the Pirates’ young players.

Now for a look at the Top 15 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline’s “old” rankings, and a few others as we head into the final five weeks of play for Class AA and A clubs and the last seven for Triple-A Indianapolis.

No. 1 - Nick Gonzales

Gonzales’ numbers keep climbing, as he raised his batting average 10 points in the past week and now is at .280 overall with an .847 OPS in 244 plate appearances at High-A Greensboro. The club’s top pick in the 2020 draft has homered nine times and driven in 27, walking 9% of the time and striking out 29.1%. So far in 12 games in August, Gonzales is hitting .333/1.064 with three homers and eight RBIs in 55 plate appearances. He’s struck out 12 times and walked six times during that stretch.

No. 2 - Quinn Priester

Priester, the club’s No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and No. 18 overall, had perhaps his best outing of the season last week at High-A Greensboro, hurling seven shutout innings in a win that boosted his record to 5-3. Priester gave up six hits, walked two and struck out a season-high 10 batters in a 90-pitch effort against Winston-Salem. Overall on the season Priester has a 2.80 ERA in 15 starts. In 74 innings he’s given up 60 hits and 30 walks while striking out 68 for a 1.216 WHIP.

No. 3 - Oneil Cruz

The 6-foot-7, left-handed hitting Cruz, who hasn’t played since June 30 due to a forearm strain, is working his way back. According to Kevin Gorman of TribLive.com, Cruz resumed taking full swings in the batting cage and was expected to face live pitching in batting practice later last week. So far this year, Cruz is at .289/.887 for Double-A Altoona. In 190 plate appearances, Cruz has hit nine homers and driven in 29. He has a 7.9% walk rate and a 22.6% strikeout rate. Defensively, Cruz has 12 errors in 42 games at shortstop.

No. 4 - Liover Peguero

The highly touted 20-year-old shortstop righted the ship a bit last week and is now hitting .257/.793 during the first nine games of the month of August at High-A Greensboro. Over his last 30 days, Peguero is at .286/.810 in 107 plate appearances with five homers and 16 RBIs. On the season, Peguero is batting .261/.766 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 303 plate appearances for High-A Greensboro. He has a 26.1% strikeout rate and an 7.3% walk rate. Defensively, Peguero has committed 19 errors in 64 games at short.

No. 5 - Hudson Head

The 20-year-old outfielder, who came over from the San Diego Padres in the Joe Musgrove trade, is hitting .219 with a .721 OPS in 89 plate appearances over his last 30 days at Low-A Bradenton. During that stretch Head has a 30.3% strikeout rate and an 11.2% walk rate. On the season, Head is at .208/.758 with a 16.8% walk rate and a 31.4% strikeout rate.

No. 6 - Tahnaj Thomas

The 6-4, 190-pound right-hander has compiled a 2-2 mark with a 4.53 ERA in 47 2/3 innings over 13 appearances – all starts – at High-A Greensboro. Thomas has given up 43 hits and 30 walks for a 1.53 WHIP while striking out 51. Eight of his 43 hits allowed have left the yard. In his most recent start, Thomas allowed two earned runs, five hits and three walks while striking out five in a five-inning effort against Winston-Salem.

No. 7 – Tucupita Marcano

The 21-year-old left-handed hitter, who came over from San Diego in the Adam Frazier deal and is now at Triple-A Indianapolis, is hitting .238/.701 in 74 plate appearances for the Indians. Prior to the trade, Marcano was hitting .272/.811 with the Padres’ Triple-A team in El Paso and he also batted .182/.485 in 50 plate appearances with the big league club. Overall at Triple-A on the season, Marcano is hitting .263/.781 with seven homers and 29 RBIs.

No. 8 - Brennan Malone

The 20-year-old right-hander, who came over from Arizona along with Peguero in the Starling Marte trade, actually made it through two innings in his most recent start for the Pirates’ Gold team in the Florida Complex League – formerly known as the Gulf Coast League. Malone did not walk a batter and gave up two hits and an unearned run, which came on a home run, while striking out three. That was a major improvement over his previous FCL start, when he only recorded one out among the five batters he faced. Prior to his assignment in the FCL, Malone appeared in three games for Bradenton, pitching a total of 3 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits and four runs – none of which were earned – while walking five and striking out two.

No. 9 - Travis Swaggerty

The Pirates’ top pick in the 2018 draft, Swaggerty underwent surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder and is out for the season. He was hitting .220/.772 in 41 at-bats with Triple-A Indianapolis before his injury.

No. 10 - Cody Bolton

Bolton underwent knee surgery in May to repair a torn medial meniscus and is expected to be sidelined from four to six months.

No. 11 - Carmen Mlodzinski

The 22-year-old right-hander, who experienced shoulder stiffness last month, made his first appearance in a game for High-A Greensboro Sunday since July 10. Mlodzinski got the start against Greensboro and pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and a walk while striking out two in his 30 pitches. On the season, Mlodzinski is 2-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 10 starts. In 43 innings, Mlodzinski has given up 28 hits, 12 earned runs, 15 walks and five home runs and has struck out 56 for a 1.00 WHIP.

No. 12 - Miguel Yajure

Yajure, who remains on the 60-day injured list after experiencing forearm tightness in late May, made his second rehab start Friday, throwing 45 pitches over 2 1/3 innings for Low-A Bradenton. Yajure allowed four hits and three earned runs, striking out four and walking one, as he threw 30 of his 45 pitches for strikes. The 23-year-old right-hander, part of the Jameson Taillon trade, is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts for the Pirates and 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts with Indianapolis. It is hoped he can move up to Double-A or Triple-A for his next start.

No. 13 - Eddy Yean

The 20-year-old right-hander, who came over from Washington in the Josh Bell trade, is 4-2 with a 6.02 ERA in 16 games at Low-A Bradenton, six coming as a starter. In 49 1/3 innings, Yean has given up 39 hits, 28 walks and 33 earned runs while striking out 50 to go with a 1.36 WHIP. Yean’s most recent outing did not go well, as he lasted just two-thirds of an inning in relief, giving up five earned runs and four walks along with one hit. Only 14 of his 33 pitches were strikes.

No. 14 - Ji-hwan Bae

The 21-year-old middle infielder is hitting .259/.739 in 243 plate appearances at Double-A Altoona, with six home runs and 19 RBIs. He’s off to a sluggish start in August, however; in 56 plate appearances covering 12 games, Bae is hitting just .200/.588 with a home run and four RBIs. He’s also struck out 17 times – a 34% strikeout rate. On the season, Bae has a 7.6% walk rate and a 23.2% strikeout rate.

No. 15 - Mason Martin

The lefty-swinging first baseman picked it up a bit last week, but for the month of August overall he’s hitting just .217/.725 for Double-A Altoona. During the month, Martin has homered just once and driven in 11 runs in 59 plate appearances. He has struck out 22 times and walked 11 times during that stretch. Over the last 30 days, Martin is hitting just .222/.734 with a 36.4% strikeout rate, but his walk rate is up to 13.6%. Overall, Martin’s 20 home runs are tied for third in the Double-A Northeast division, four behind the leader, and his 63 RBIs are second, two behind the leader. On the season, the 22-year-old slugger is batting .260/.885 in 355 plate appearances. He has struck out 119 times (33.7%) and has walked 32 times (9.1%).

Indianapolis: Fabricio Macias, a 23-year-old outfielder whose .316/.861 start at High-A Greensboro earned him a promotion to Triple-A after 184 plate appearances, is hitting .299/.760 in 85 plate appearances. ... Michael Chavis, obtained from Boston for Austin Davis, is at .273/.996 with the Indians in 50 plate appearances. He has homered four times and driven in nine runs. ... Dillon Peters, obtained from the Los Angeles Angels, earned a promotion to the big club and made his first appearance Sunday, giving up five hits and one earned run while walking three and striking out three in 4 2/3 innings. ... Pitcher Shelby Miller was activated from the seven-day injured list Thursday. The 30-year-old right-hander, signed to a minor league deal in late June, is a one-time All-Star with the Braves.

Altoona: No. 18 prospect Cal Mitchell has cooled off a bit in recent weeks, as he owns a .242/.617 profile in 109 plate appearances over the last 30 days with one homer, although he has driven in 13 runs during that stretch. Overall on the year, he’s hitting .272/.771 in 324 plate appearances. The 22-year-old San Diego product has 11 homers and 45 RBIs to go with a 5.9% walk rate and a 17.6% strikeout rate.. ... No. 20 prospect Roansy Contreras, sidelined by a right forearm strain at the end of June, is throwing again, with the goal of getting a few starts before the end of the minor league season. Altoona’s schedule ends Sept. 19 but Triple-A Indianapolis will continue through Oct. 3. On the season, Contreras is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in nine starts covering 46 innings. He has walked 11, given up 31 hits and struck out 65. ... No. 23 prospect Omar Cruz is 2-2 with a 3.33 ERA in nine starts since being promoted from High-A Greensboro. Cruz has worked 46 innings and given up 41 hits and 17 earned runs to go with 37 strikeouts and 14 walks. In his most recent start Sunday, he worked four innings, giving up one hit, one earned run and one walk while striking out four. ... Canaan Smith-Njigba, an outfielder who came over in the Jameson Taillon trade, has yet to return from the seven-day injured list, where he landed after a leg injury on July 27. He is at .286/.830 in 248 plate appearances. He has six homers and 40 RBIs to go with a 16.1% walk rate and a 25.8% strikeout rate. ... No. 30 prospect Carter Bins, obtained in the Tyler Anderson deal, is hitting .240/.601 overall. So far at Altoona, Bins is at .244/.619 in 46 plate appearances with five RBIs. ... Diego Castillo, a shortstop who came in the Clay Holmes deal, is at .271/.809 in his first 70 at-bats with four home runs and 10 RBIs for the Curve but overall on the season he’s at .276/.840 with 15 homers and 42 RBIs. He has an 8.6% walk rate and a 12.2% strikeout rate in 302 plate appearances at the Double-A level. ... Jack Suwinski, who came over from San Diego in the Adam Frazier trade, is at .250/.737 in 72 plate appearances since the deal with one homer and eight RBIs. Overall on the season, Suwinski is at .265/.906 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs along with a 27.7% strikeout rate and a 16.8% walk rate.

Greensboro: No. 22 Braxton Ashcraft is out for the season and likely most of next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this month. Ashcraft was 1-1 with a 5.35 ERA in 10 starts spanning 38 2/3 innings. He had given up 35 hits and 12 walks while striking out 41. ... No. 29 Michael Burrows who was placed on the seven-day injured list on July 16 with an undisclosed injury, has a 2.25 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in 11 starts covering 44 innings. The 21-year-old right-hander has allowed 21 hits and 17 walks while striking out 63. ... Right-hander J.C. Flowers, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, is 5-2 with a 4.69 ERA in 11 appearances, nine of which have been starts, after being promoted from Bradenton. Flowers has given up 48 hits and 17 walks and has struck out 49 in 48 innings. ... Third baseman Jared Triolo, the Pirates’ second-round draft pick out of the University of Houston in 2019, is at .303/.830 with 62 RBIs – third in the league – and 20 stolen bases, seventh in the league. ... Teammate Lolo Sanchez (.242/.799) is second in the league in steals with 25 and also has 13 home runs.

Bradenton: No. 17 prospect Jared Jones, the Pirates’ second-round pick in the 2020 draft, is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 13 games, nine of them starts. In 49 innings, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder has given up 45 hits and 21 walks while striking out 76. ... No. 21 Nick Garcia, last year’s No. 3 draft pick, is 5-3 with a 4.20 ERA over 55 2/3 innings spread out over 16 appearances, nine of which have been starts. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander has struck out 59 and walked 28. ... No. 25 Jose Soriano, the top pick in this year’s Rule 5 draft, underwent revision Tommy John surgery and the 22-year-old right-hander will be sidelined for 16 months. ... Shortstop Maikol Escotto, the last piece in the Taillon trade, is hitting .246/.764 with 32 RBIs in 288 plate appearances. He has a 16.3% walk rate and a 30.2% strikeout rate to go with a .386 on-base percentage. He has made 16 errors in 54 games at shortstop. ... No. 19 prospect Sammy Siani, the No. 37 overall pick in 2019, was placed on the seven-day injured list on July 17. His last appearance in a game came on July 14. Overall he is at .210/.767 in 231 plate appearances. The 20-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder has eight homers and 35 RBIs as well as a 19% walk rate – best among the club’s Top 30 prospects — and a 25.5% strikeout rate. ... Catcher Endy Rodriguez, the Pirates’ No. 25 prospect, is at .272/.820 in 327 plate appearances, with 10 homers and 45 RBIs. He has an 18.7% strikeout rate and an 11.6% walk rate. ... Fellow catching prospect Abrahan Gutierrez, obtained from Philadelphia for pitcher Braeden Ogle, is 11 for 36 with four RBIs at Bradenton, and overall on the year Gutierrez is at .300/.867 in 255 plate appearances with five homers and 36 RBIs to go with a 14.1% strikeout rate and a 16% walk rate.

Florida Complex League: Po-Yu Chen, an international signing who received a $1.25 million bonus last year, is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in six starts for the Pirates’ Black team. In 26 innings, Chen has surrendered just 18 hits and has not walked a batter while striking out 29. ... Bubba Chandler, the Pirates’ third round pick in last month’s draft, has yet to throw a pitch for the Pirates’ Black team but he has gone 1 for 6 in two games as a DH. ... Outfielder Braylon Bishop, the Bucs’ 14th-round selection in this year’s draft, made his pro debut Monday and went 0 for 2 for the Black team.